16 Northern Districts: Rising input cost worries Boro farmers
Saiful Islam has lately been busy preparing his five bighas of land to grow paddy. But he reckons he will have to spend Tk 25,000 more than he did last season for the cultivation as the cost of just about everything has gone up.
The farmer of Rangpur is worried whether the price of paddy will reflect the rising cost of farming.
Fuel for the tiller machines and water pumps, fertiliser, pesticide, seed, farm workers and everything in between would now cost an estimated Tk 19,900 for each bigha of land, up from last year's Tk 14,900.
"This is a heavy burden for me because I didn't make much profit from my produce last year," says Saiful.
Landless farmers will find it even harder to be able to survive with the earnings, he added.
Like him, hundreds of thousands of paddy growers in the 16 northern districts are finding it difficult to cope with what many of them said is a 25 percent rise in the cost of farming Boro paddy.
Some expressed fears that the costs may rise even further in the coming weeks.
Agricultural economist Jahangir Alam Khan said Boro accounts for 54 percent of the country's annual rice production.
"A good yield of Boro is particularly important this year because of the concerns over food security," he told The Daily Star, adding that the government should immediately start providing farmers with cash support to compensate for the increased input costs.
This would encourage them to cultivate paddy on more lands, he said.
M Asaduzzaman, former research director at Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, said the farmers would need diesel to till and irrigate the fields. If the government does not provide them with subsidies, the price of Boro will rise.
Even though Aman production was good last year, the price of rice has not fallen, and it indicates that hoarders are waiting for the price of rice to increase further in the coming days, he said.
According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), last year's average Boro paddy production cost in Rangpur and Dinajpur regions was Tk 14,900 per bigha of land and in Rajshahi and Bogura regions Tk 17,450. Each region consists of four districts.
The DAE estimates that Boro will be cultivated on 13.25 lakh hectares of land in the 16 northern districts this year. It is 26.5 percent of the total Boro cultivable land in the country, officials said.
Kanchi Karmaker, a farmer in Birol upazila of Dinajpur, said ever since the government raised the prices of diesel and fertiliser, everything related to farming has become more expensive.
Last year, the price of diesel rose by 42.5 percent while the price of each kg of urea fertiliser leaped to Tk 22 from Tk 16 in 2021.
Breaking down the expenses, Shamsul Haq of Takeyarpar area of Rangpur said the average cost for preparing a bigha of land has gone from Tk 900 to Tk 1,300, sowing from Tk 1,000 to Tk 1,500, irrigation from Tk 1,200 from Tk 1,600, different fertilisers from Tk 2,000 to Tk 3,500, pesticide and other expenses from Tk 800 last year to around Tk 1,200 this year.
Making a profit of Tk 6,000 per bigha of land would be a challenge this year, said a farmer in Naogaon, adding that making that much profit would depend on a lot of things including the weather.
Prof Nazrul Islam Hakkani, president of Jatiya Krishak Samiti in Rangpur, said, "The vast majority of underprivileged farmers do not have enough money. Most of them can't get a low-interest bank loan and have to turn to loan sharks just to be able to farm. The government should provide them with cash support right now."
Mohammad Shah Alam, additional director of the DAE in Rangpur, said mechanisation in farming can be a way to cut down the costs.